In the period 1980–1987, neural tube defects were two to three times more prevalent in populations covered by EUROCAT registries in the United Kingdom and Ireland (UKI) than in Continental Europe and Malta (CEM). 1864 NTD cases in a total population of 580,000 births in UKI and 455 cases in a population of 380,000 births in CEM were analysed to find if there were differences in the ratio of prevalence rates between UKI and CEM according to site of the defect and association with non‐central nervous system (CNS) anomalies. The prevalence rate ratio was high for anencephaly with accompanying spina bifida, iniencephaly, and upper spina bifida, and low for encephalocele, lower spina bifida, and anencephaly without other neural tube defects. There was a greater female excess for anencephaly with accompanying spina bifida, iniencephaly, and upper spina bifida than for other defects in both geographic areas. There was a female excess for encephalocele in UKI but a male excess in CEM. Certain sites (anencephaly with accompanying spina bifida, iniencephaly, and encephalocele) were more likely to have accompanying non‐CNS anomalies. The prevalence rate ratio of multiply malformed NTD was in general lower than for isolated NTD but showed the same pattern by site. The prevalence rate ratio was high for multiply malformed anencephaly with accompanying spina bifida, iniencephaly, and upper spina bifida. The sex ratio was similar between isolated and multiply malformed cases when site of the defect is taken into account. It is concluded that the geographic prevalence pattern and sex ratio differ according to site of NTD but do not differ substantially according to whether NTD is isolated or associated with non‐CNS anomalies.